Market Research Tips for Small Business Owners

You already know that market research is important to the development of your business regardless of the size. Yet, it can also be overwhelming to figure out what you need to know, and how to conduct your research. So we’ve put together these five tips to help simplify market research and get you started on the journey to soaring sales.

Tip #1: Define the objective of your research.

Before setting off on your market research quest, think about what you’re trying to achieve next with your business. Are you looking to 5 Market Research Tips for Small Business Ownersincrease traffic to your location? Or increase sales? Or convert customers from one-time purchasers to regulars? Figuring out your objective will help you tailor the rest of your research and your future marketing materials. Having an objective for your research will flesh out what kind of data you need to collect.

Tip #2: Learn About Your Target Customers.

The most important thing to remember is that your business serves a specific kind of customer. Defining your specific customer has many advantages like allowing you to understand what kind of language to use when crafting your marketing materials, and how to approach building relationships with your customer. When you take time to define your target customer you can also find the best products and services to sell to them.

You want to know as much as you can about your target customer. You can gather this information through observation and by researching the kind of customers who frequent your type of business. For starters, helpful things to know are their age and income. What do they do for a living? What’s their marital status and education level?

Tip #3: Recognize that knowing who you serve helps you define who you do not.

Let’s take a classic example from copywriting genius Dan Kennedy. He says that if you’re opening up a fine dining steakhouse focused on decadent food, you know right off the bat that you’re not looking to attract vegetarians or dieters. Armed with this information, you can create better marketing messages that speaks to your target customers.

It’s okay to decide on who is not a part of your target customer base. In fact, for small businesses knowing who you don’t cater to can be essential to helping you grow. Why? Simple, if you’re small you’re advantage is that you can connect deeply with a specific segment of the market. You want to focus your efforts on the right customer who already is compelled to spend money on your offer. If you’re spreading yourself thin by trying to be all things to everyone, you will only dilute your core message. Instead, keep your focus on your target customer. Define them, go deep, and you’ll be able to figure out how you can best serve them with your products and services.

Tip #4: Learn from your competition.

This works for brick and mortar businesses as well as internet businesses because it allows you to step into the shoes of your customer and open up to a new perspective of your business. Take a look around the internet and around your town. If you can, visit your competitor’s shops. For example, if you own a restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine, dine at the other Italian place in your neighborhood or in the next township.

As you experience the business from the customer perspective, look for what’s being done right and wrong. Can you see areas that need attention or improvement? How are you running things in comparison? What’s the quality of their product and customer service? Are the customers here pleased? Also, take a close look at their market segment. Who else is patronizing their business? Are they the same kinds of people who spend money with you? By asking these questions and doing in-person research, you can dig up a lot of information to help you define your unique selling position and create even better offers for your customers.

Tip #5: Get your target customers to open up and tell you everything.

A good customer survey is one of the most valuable market research tools because it gives you the opportunity to get inside of your customer’s head. However, remember that some feedback may be harsh, so take criticism as a learning tool to point you in the right direction.

Creating a survey is simple. Ask questions about what your customer thinks you’re doing right, and what can be improved. You can also prompt them to tell you what kinds of products and services they’d like to see you add which gives you amazing insight into how to monetize your business more. Many customers will be delighted to offer feedback. You can even give customers who fill out surveys a gift like a special coupon for their next purchase.

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